by Gayle Forman
“What is the matter with you?”
“What’s the matter? I’m here alone all day with my mother and the kids and I still feel like shit.” She paused, waiting for Jason to respond but he didn’t say anything. “You’re never here. I can’t tell if you’re trying to avoid home, or if you think that a week in the hospital, a week of recovery, was enough luxury for old Maribeth.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You promised me a bubble,” she said, her voice cracking.
“I’m trying, Maribeth. But keeping you in the bubble and keeping the house running and keeping on top of my job is no easy feat.”
“Welcome to every fucking day of my life.”
Maribeth is like so many other mums – forever chasing a never-ending to-do list, always putting everyone else first, and rarely feeling appreciated. No wonder she didn’t even notice that she was having a heart attack.
At home on leave from work and trying to recover, Maribeth is finding that even now, life must go on and there’s no rest to be found. Why does it seem that only mothers can never catch a break? Even after having a heart attack, her family can’t cut her some slack. What if she had died? How would they ever cope if she wasn’t around?
So, she decides to let them find out…..
This is one of those books that makes you want to scream “YES! I KNOW!” and then berate your husband for not understanding. Poor Maribeth – I feel you, girl! Not that I’ve ever had a heart attack and had to rely on my family being able to fend for themselves and let me recuperate. BUT I have often wondered just how well, or not, they would do under those circumstances.
The tasty thing about this book is that you get to live out that evil little fantasy vicariously through Maribeth, as she takes the plunge on your behalf. And it is satisfying as all get out. Maribeth actually does just pack up and leave her family to their own devices, heading off to who-the-hell-cares to do god-knows-what, just as long as it doesn’t involve looking after other people for a change. Regardless of whether you’re a parent or not, haven’t we all just wanted to throw our hands up in the air at some point and say “I’M OUT!”
So off she goes, with no real plan and not knowing how long she’ll stay away. She has to find a place to rent, a new grocery store, new friends, a new cardio specialist to keep an eye on her…..and for a while, she doesn’t seem to think about her family all that much, only writing the occasional un-sent letter to her children. But of course, with each passing day Maribeth examines her relationships – past, present and future – her own worth, and her happiness. We see her coming to realise that, even though they can be a pain in the arse and unbelievably inconsiderate at times, her family gives her life meaning and satisfaction that she can’t get otherwise. Having had them, she can’t go back to NOT having them. Being a mother and wife are integral to who she is.
I loved this book, it resonated with me so much and even weeks on from finishing it, I’m still thinking about it and realising new ideas to ponder in it. It’s an easy read, and if you love books that examine families and relationships and identity, then you must put this on your list.
Did not like it – It was ok – Liked it – Really liked it – It was amazing